It’s National Chocolate Cake Day

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A Day Honoring a Favorite Dessert!

I can never quite decide which I love more a luscious deep-dish apple pie fragrant with cinnamon, or a rich, melt-in-your-mouth slice of dark chocolate cake.  It never entered my imagination that there would be a special day for Chocolate Cake, until a good friend sent me an e-mail with a recipe for a microwave cooked Chocolate Cake in a Mug in honor of today.

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Watching my cake cook!

Of course I had to try the recipe, which is quite simple. The result is a somewhat spongy cake, with a pancake like under-taste. Not bad for a super quick cake to satisfy an craving for chocolate cake.   I am wondering how the recipe might fair if a rising agent were added, or perhaps self-rising flour were used, which I do not keep on hand as a staple.

For a microwave baked product, it is good and should be a hit with younger kids especially if they are watching through the microwave window when the cake starts to rise like a souffle!  It is puffs up quickly – almost like magic.  Make sure you use a LARGE mug; you only want the batter to fill about halfway up you cup.

My mug is now empty, as I was enjoying my cake as I was typing this review.  Hmmm, I haven’t had lunch today so maybe a second helping is in order.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug Recipe

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Mixed and Ready to Microwave!

Combine: 4 T flour, 4 T sugar, 1 T cocoa

Add to dry ingredients: 1 egg, 3 T milk, 3 T oil

Mix well. Bake 3 minutes in microwave. Cool and enjoy!

Optional Ingredients: 1 T of chocolate chips, or chopped nuts, or coconut

Let me know if you try this recipe and what changes you make!

Happy Microwave Baking!

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year 2015

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It’s 2015 and I haven’t made a resolution – – not sure that I am going to make one this year. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals, it just means that I’m not sure resolutions are successful.

Even though I haven’t made an “official” resolution, my goal to make yummy and healthy (mostly) food still continues.  Cooking for two people is a challenge. Most recipes are written to serve four or more.  Plus, I get tired of leftovers and like to cook new dishes.

For a New Years Day brunch, my original plan was to make a New Orleans inspired dish, since my husband is from that area of Louisiana.  My first choice was Bananas Foster French Toast from a recipe in Taste of Home magazine, but the bananas weren’t cooperating (still too green). So, after searching through other recipes, I decided on Pecan Praline French Toast. It may not be 100% healthy, but it certainly qualifies as delicious!  Here’s my version – –

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

Serves 4 – 6

1/2 loaf of French bread (I used a day-old baguette)

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I like the taste of dark brown sugar; if you don’t, use a total of 1/2 cup light brown sugar)

1/4 cup firmly pack light brown sugar

3 T butter

1 T Maple syrup

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I had it on hand – you can also use 1/2 cup of milk in total)

1 T granulated sugar

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Lightly grease an oven proof dish. I used a round flat-bottomed ceramic baking dish from Pampered Chef. You could also use a cast-iron skillet or any other dish of your choice.

2. Melt butter (microwave on 1 minute works great!). Add the both of the brown sugars and the maple syrup. Stir until combined and pour into your prepared dish.

3. Sprinkle sugar mixture with the pecans and arrange the apple slices on top of the nuts.

4. Slice bread into 1 inch pieces and arrange over the pecan and apples. Cut, as necessary, slices to make one layer of bread in your pan.

5. Using a whisk or fork, mix together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the bread. Cover dish and chill bread overnight (or at least 8 hours).

6. Remove bread refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the top is a golden brown.

7. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the bread and invert onto a serving plate.

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

This recipe makes its own syrup – – see photo – – and if you want, serve with additional maple syrup. For a delicious brunch, add your choice of sides. I decided on bacon (who doesn’t love bacon) and a fruit salad (the healthy part).

Peach, Asian Pear and Cranberry Salad

Peach, Asian Pear and Cranberry Salad

The original version for 8 to 10 people was published in Southern Living [February 2011] and you can find their version here.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think. My husband went back for seconds – – so I know he thought it was yummy and then told me that I started a new tradition today – – “full breakfast every morning.” Good thing I knew he was just joking.

May 2015 be filled with blessing and joy for you and yours!

The Pampered Chef Mini-Baker

Season’s Greetings

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Hope everyone had a joyful and blessed holiday. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend the day with family. Our day was filled with the laughter of young and old, good conversation, and delicious food. Of course, I ate too much. Started out with good intentions and small servings, but went back for more of my favorites.

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Shadow “hanging” out in our Christmas tree. One of her favorite places.

Our Christmas dinner was a pot luck with the hosts providing a glorious prime rib, mashed potatoes, gravy and au jus. Contributed sides included a twist on the classic green bean casserole – prepared in a crocked pot, maple glazed carrots with dill, and baked beans with bacon.

A holiday feast is not complete without dessert – – we had two of my favorites – – apple crumb pie and sweet potato pie. How could I possibly choose just one!  Had to have some of each.

After dinner, we unwrapped gifts while sitting around the fire. Because our family has grown so large, adults pick names at Thanksgiving for a Secret Santa exchange.  I brought “goodie bags” for everyone filled with Salty Chocolate Chip cookies (with coconut and caramel bits added to make them EXTRA yummy), Fig Walnut balls, and Coconut Chocolate Haystacks.

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Making Coconut Chocolate Haystacks at Christmas time is becoming a holiday tradition. Best of all they are super easy to make!

Ingredients and Supplies:

12 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (I like to use Ghiradelli)

14 ounce bag of sweetened coconut

Glass batter bowl – 2 quart size

Small Scoop – Tablespoon Size (I use Pampered Chef Small Scoop)

Waxed Paper

Directions:

Pour chips into a glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir chips. Return and microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir well. Once more for 30 seconds, stir well until all chips are melted . If necessary return to microwave for 15 more seconds.

Slowly add coconut, breaking up clumps and stirring well after each addition. Keeping adding coconut and stirring until you have used all of the coconut. You will have a stiff mixture.

Use scoop and press against side of bowl to compress. Dispense onto wax paper and let the haystacks set until firm. Stored in an airtight container. Makes lots! About 4 to 5 dozen.

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Share, eat and enjoy!

Need a glass bowl or a small scoop? Check out the following links – –

The Pampered Chef Small Scoop #2530

Anchor Hocking 2 Quart Ovenproof Glass Batter Bowl

Me Want Cookies!

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It’s cookie baking time! I’ve been baking cookies all week for the Christmas holiday and for a Cookie Walk bake sale at the church I attend. Already made are English Toffee Brickle Drops, Spiced Shortbread, and White Chip Macadamia Nut. Today’s baking menu is for Loaded Chocolate Chip cookies and Gingerbread Thumbprint cookies.

I was searching for an existing Loaded Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, but didn’t find one that I liked. So, being a creative cook, I took a traditional chocolate chip recipe and made modifications. The end result was a cookie that was crisp on the outside, yet soft and chewy on the inside. Best of all, they are not overly sweet. Here’s what I did –

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

 

Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 cup unsweetened butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 cup regular rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar – packed
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar – packed
  • 1 – 1/2 cups good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3/4 cup caramel bits
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars until creamy and combined well. Medium speed about 2 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Mix on medium low speed until well mixed.  Tip: crack eggs into a separate bowl first to avoid shell chips in your batter.
  4. In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, salt, and baking soda.
  5. Slowly add dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and mix until incorporated.
  6. Use a mixing spoon to stir in the chips, coconut, cranberries, and caramel bits.
  7. Drop batter onto prepared baking sheets using a one inch scoop or teaspoon.
  8. Bake 11 – 12 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Cool 5 minutes on sheets and transfer to cooling rack.
  10. Eat and enjoy!
Baked Cookies

Baked Cookies Ready to Eat – – Yum!!!

I hope you give these cookies a try and let me know what you think. Just transferred the last batch to the cooling rack, now it’s time for a clean-up and then onto the Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies (using apricot preserves instead of the blueberry jam).

Happy Baking!

 

Healthy Eating and Guiltless Cookies

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Much like many people, I have been making a conscious effort to improve the quality of foods that I am eating.  Sodas were the first to go! Yes, it was hard, but I started by cutting back until I would allow myself one a week as a treat. Now I honestly do not even want that. Best of all I notice a difference in how I feel.

Adding more fresh veggies and fruit was not a problem since I have always loved and eaten lots in this area. Now I just don’t buy anything processed (canned, frozen, pre-prepped).  I even started making my own bread so that I can control the ingredients.

This all sounds good, but I must admit that there is one area that is really, really, REALLY hard for me . . . sweets.  I would always keep some ginger snaps around to snack on. I’d grab two or three from the cookies jar a couple of time a day.  My husband would take five (or more) at a time.  We decided not to buy cookies anymore and I have been missing them.  Lately, I have been craving a cookie.

Okay, so where AM I going with this? A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe on Facebook for a healthy cookie. I have seen it before, but never made them.  This time, I told myself, would be different. Well, it took a little while but I finally made them this morning! Not sure where the original recipe comes from, but this was version posted by PerezHilton.com.


3 ripe mashed bananas (I measured and had about 1 – 1/2 cups)

1/3 cup applesauce (I used unsweetened – otherwise you are defeating the purpose)

2 cups rolled oats (NOT 5 minute or instant)

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup raisins (optional, but yummy and adds sweetness)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Basically, this is an easy one bowl recipe. You don’t even need to get out your mixer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and mash your bananas. I used the vintage potato masher that my mom gave me. Add the remaining ingredients in order, stirring after each addition. That’s it, easy peasy!

Using a medium scoop, place dollops onto a baking stone and lightly press down.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

I only put about 8 cookies per sheet, because I was not sure how they would spread and the mixture is loose. I ended up with 2 dozen cookies (plus one that was sacrificed to the taste tester – me!) If you use metal sheets, I would recommend lining the sheets with parchment paper. Personally, I do not use cooking sprays or shortening. When necessary I will use butter (not margarine).

The results: a soft, moist, cake-like cookie with good flavor.

I took the cookies I made this morning to The Stitcher’s group at my church. We meet every Tuesday morning to work on any project that involves stitches – from crochet to quilts.  At first this group – with some very good cooks – was extremely skeptical of a sugarless, flourless, eggless, dairyless, fat free, cookie. However, one taste let to another and even to seconds and requests for the recipe.

The verdict: this is a keeper

Future modifications: add coconut, unsweetened cocoa, pecans

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think!